Today’s Prayer Focus
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MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for intense war experience and some language.

Reviewed by: Paul Andersen

Moral Rating: Better than Average (for its genre)—with cautions
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults Older Teens (definitely not for kids or immature teens)
Genre: War Action History Drama IMAX
Length: 1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release: 2017
USA Release: July 21, 2017 (wide—3,600+ theaters)
DVD: December 19, 2017
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Relevant Issues


Bravery / courage / heroism

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FEAR—conquering it

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

war in the Bible

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

the role of God in world events—He is SOVEREIGN over all nations.

Miracles in the Bible

Sin and the fall of man

Goodness and righteousness

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Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things of our world come to be? Answer

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Featuring Kenneth BranaghCommander Bolton
Tom HardyFarrier
Mark RylanceMr. Dawson
James D'ArcyColonel Winnant
Cillian MurphyShivering Soldier
Harry Styles … Alex
Fionn Whitehead … Tommy
See all »
Director Christopher Nolan — “Inception” (2010), “The Dark Knight” (2008), “The Prestige” (2006)
Producer Christopher Nolan
Emma Thomas
See all »
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures
, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

An event that shaped our world—when 400,000 men couldn’t get home, home came for them

Article Version: August 19, 2017

Director Christopher again brings us high-quality and unique storytelling. “Dunkirk” qualifies as a true cinematic masterpiece, quite unlike most of today’s blockbusters. Most directors rely on computer graphic wizardry and green-screen digital photography to achieve big (but not usually credible) action, computer generated people doing impossible (or incredibly dangerous things), massive crowds, perfect shot framing and camera angles, and awesome landscapes. Computer-generated imagery and studio green-screen work has undeniably advanced enormously, but it still leaves something to be desired; a true feeling of actual reality is rarely achieved. Most of us can tell when things are fake, and this knowledge distances audiences from making a true emotional connection with the story.

“Dunkirk” is a very visual, action-oriented film. As much as possible, Nolan gives us with the real deal! It is shot on real film (70mm), using real people, real crowds of thousands, actual historic locations, a real working destroyer and others ships, and authentic planes. A number of the boats onscreen actually participated in the historic evacuation.

When special effects are required for reenactments (bombs, artillery, gun shots, etc.), he uses practical effects, not CGI. To me, the difference is quite obvious. He pulls out all the usual stops. Real planes successfully ditch on a real ocean. He even crashes a real Messerschmitt (costing millions), simply because discerning audiences will notice the difference between real and fake.

The story of the enormous evacuation of Dunkirk deserves such realism. It was a very real and extremely pivotal historical event. The true size, scope and depth can never be successfully produced as a theatrical drama. What audiences are presented with in “Dunkirk” is, of course, not actual reality, that’s impossible. What Nolan gives us is a very skillful impressionistic presentation enhanced by an unusually great feeling of reality.

Many interesting details are not included. There is some fiction (dramatic license) involved. The characters are fictional or composites, based on history. In my opinion, the true story is far more amazing than fiction. “Dunkirk” is certainly not a perfect telling of what happened; it is more of a history experience than a history lesson. However, most viewers will find this film quite favorably unusual, emotional (but realistically restrained), and awesome.

Dialog is kept to a bare minimum—much less than in most dramas. Instead of TELLING the audience the story, Nolan SHOWS it—fast paced, full of small details and nuances for you to discover. That makes great cinema.

However, a 106 minute film can never give us the richness and depth that books provide, so if you know very little about these events, I highly recommend you read one or more historical accounts to gain a much truer understanding. Read about the people who were actually there.

The cinematography is a marvel—so impressive and realistic. As a photographer (and sometimes cinematographer) myself, I am awed by what the production team accomplished without resorting to computer imagery and digital enhancement.

The acting is very well done. No one seems like they are playing a part; I accepted all as authentic people of the time. This film is certainly not designed as a vehicle for stardom; the actors fully serve the story, not the other way around.

Tom Hardy’s covered face
Tom Hardy as Farrier in “Dunkirk” (2017)
The Dark Knight Rises
Tom Hardy as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), also directed by Christopher Nolan
Tom Hardy in “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy without mask (2010)

The biggest current star in this film is Tom Hardy, and we never see his face (just eyes behind goggles and a flight mask)—until a brief reveal of his face at film’s end. He does an amazing job of expressing thoughts and emotions with just his eyes and head movements. Viewers will find his character quite memorable.

The manner of courage, and sometimes cowardice/self-preservation, displayed in “Dunkirk,” seems quite realistic, in my opinion, and never overplayed. Some great goodness and kindness is exhibited.

I should mention that, if you are an American, you may have occasional difficulty understanding words and dialog. The actors seem authentically British (and most are), so expect a variety of UK pronunciations and terminology (e.g., a “mole” is a jetty). Don’t worry if you don’t understand every word; it is not necessary to the movie’s enjoyment.

The director continually moves the audience’s gaze between what is happening on the beach, in the air and on the sea. The movie is an intense experience, and sometimes loud (planes, bombs, guns, etc.). Occasionally, it becomes a little confusing, without the usual explanatory dialog or narration, but I think this method serves “Dunkirk” well. I would rather have the sensory and emotional feeling that accompanies such a realistic impression of events, than receive a totally linear and clichéd presentation. The film’s editing also makes a few time shifts (to prior events), without explanation. This could be confusing for some, but I did not experience any serious bewilderment—only a brief initial disorientation. Pay close attention to get the richest viewing experience.

VIOLENCE—None of the violence is over-the-top or gratuitous. It is kept PG-13, without gore and with little bloodiness. My wife dislikes war movies, due to their typical violence—which some directors seem to relish. She agreed to attend my viewing and really liked this film. It gives a helpful, sufficiently realistic emotional impression of the difficulties, frustrations, and terror of war, without being gross about it.

It is important to appreciate the men and women of history who earned our freedoms and triumphed over evil adversaries at such great personal cost. How many young people truly understand that freedom is precious, and freedom is not free?

SEX/NUDITY—There is no sexuality or nudity. An anxious soldier squats to defecate (he thinks in private), but this very brief scene shows no details and quickly develops into a different direction.

LANGUAGE—The number of swearwords is surprisingly low for a war film, especially these days when f-words can well exceed 100. As a follower of Christ aiming at a life of purity and goodness, I wish NONE of the swearwords were present, but I suppose the profanity and vulgarity does lend some authenticity. At least it was kept relatively minimal for a big budget reality-based war film—and, although I am quite sensitive to their use, they didn’t they stand out badly in context. They are just the expected, but not never condoned, exclamations of anxiety-filled men in war time. All words are listed at the end of this review.

The use of one particular vulgar word would normally cause me to downgrade the morality rating to Offensive, but considering the overall positives of this film and the unique, realistic and rather inspiring experience it provides, I believe that rating would give readers the wrong impression about this motion picture. For its genre, “Dunkirk” is better than average.

The tension and intrigue continues to increase incrementally throughout the film, definitely aided by composer Hans Zimmer’s score. This film is succinct and never bored me; I was intensely focused and involved from beginning to end. Viewing on a big screen is definitely best—and even better on IMAX. “Dunkirk” is very likely to receive Academy Award nominations.

Director Christopher Nolan says, “I want the audience to feel my movies, not understand them.” In addition, he appears to be non-religious (a Secularist), although he seems to understand and use religious imagery—possibly due to his brother and co-worker, Jonathan Nolan (a successful director and screenwriter), who graduated from the Jesuit Loyola Academy (a college preparatory high school). Don’t expect to have an inspirational or spiritual experience watching Nolan’s film; that certainly wasn’t his goal.

That is my most serious complaint about “Dunkirk.” It succeeds as a spectacle that visually displays “the craziness, brutality and arbitrariness of war.” But it fails to be as inspirational as this important historic event warrants. Worse, it totally ignores the existence of God, Believers and prayer. “Dunkirk” is not specifically anti-God; it just entirely ignores Him—and praying believers. It never even hints at the millions of intense pleas that went to God during (and preceding) these historic events. Praise God, many earnest, repentant prayers were answered in His mercy and grace.

Behind Dunkirk’s evacuation—repentance and divine mercy

With the War going so disastrously in Europe and virtually the entire British Army and allies facing annihilation or slavery as the Nazi noose tightened to a stranglehold around Dunkirk (Dunkerque, France), King George 6th of Great Britain wisely called for a fervent National Day of Prayer to be held on May 26, 1940.

“In a national broadcast, he instructed the people of the UK to turn back to God in a spirit of repentance and plead for Divine help. Millions of people across the British Isles flocked into churches praying for deliverance(John Willans, UK).

1940 National Day of Prayer in Britain
1940 photo of a portion of a very long line of God-fearing British citizens going to church to repent and plead with God for their nation’s deliverance during the National Day of Prayer. The King himself and members of the Cabinet prayed at Westminster Abbey, which filled to overflowing.

The newspaper Daily Sketch proclaimed, “Nothing like it has ever happened before.”

Soldiers on the Dunkirk beach prayed fervently, as well.

“Please God, let us go, get us out of this mess back to England.” —Harry Garrett, British 52nd Regiment

The amazing historical events of the Dunkirk mass evacuation directly followed the people’s display of humility, repentance and plea for God’s help—that very day the successful evacuation began. The people of the time widely recognized the results as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”

Even The New York Times of 1940 stated,

“So long as the English tongue survives, the word Dunkerque will be spoken with reverence.”

And for good reason, as truly stunning things happened…

  1. UNITED BRAVE AND OPTIMISTIC ACTION IN THE FACE OF SOUL-CRUSHING DISCOURAGEMENT—Successfully defeating European nations at every turn, the Nazis were on the brink of surely crushing the defenders of Britain. The people of the UK were hearing that democracy was finished in Britain. Rather than collapsing in fear and surrender, as many expected, the people quickly rallied.

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    THE BOATS—The evacuation began on May 26, 1940 and there were not enough available ships, so “hundreds of boats of every description came to the rescue of desperate, trapped soldiers” (including 700 privately-owned boats, although not necessarily operated by their owners).

  3. THE ENGLISH CHANNEL—The normally treacherous English Channel was reportedly “as smooth as a millpond” (probably a slight exaggeration, but a reasonable metaphor compared to the Channel’s usual treacherous nature). It was obviously quite calm if so many thousands stood shoulder to shoulder on decks of small boats for the long crossing without being tossed overboard. The movie definitely depicts the sea as more rough and dramatic. (But, admittedly, we can’t expect a filmmaker to capture such rare Channel conditions.)

  4. UNEXPECTED SUCCESS IN AIR BATTLE—Despite the Nazi Luftwaffe’s clear numerical superiority and battle experience, they inexplicably lost the furious air battle that ensued. They failed in their concerted effort to massacre hundreds of thousand of soldiers on the beach with strafing and bombs, and utterly failed to stop the massive evacuation.

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    MYSTERIOUSLY HUGE ERROR—Hitler seemingly obliged the evacuation by sanctioning a Halt Order, making the single biggest mistake of the War. His invincible, encircling Wehrmacht, stopped when it should have continued to quickly advance on the beach with tanks, artillery and all troops. The order was not rescinded until it was too late. Thus, the overconfident Nazis missed their greatest opportunity to slaughter and enslave the Allied troops, and ultimately lost the War. (The Bible records many times when God influenced the minds of heathen kings and generals.)

  6. ASTONISHINGLY GREAT SUCCESS—At best, the wildest hope for the British was the rescue of 50-thousand soldiers. Instead, about 340-thousand Allied troops (198-thousand British and 140-thousand French and Belgian) were evacuated from the beaches—most from a single narrow jetty, the rest were snatched from the sea.

    “Dunkirk” does not fully accentuate this marvelous reality, instead it focuses more on dramatic deaths and near-deaths, and less on the amazingly smooth rescue of the great majority, despite such potential for disaster at every turn.

  7. ALLOWED FREE FRENCH RESISTANCE—The 111,000 rescued French soldiers went on to form the crucial Free French Resistance (Forces françaises libres) against the Nazi occupation of France.

  8. BRITISH RECOVERY—Despite the colossal military disaster of having to leave behind so much vital military equipment and ammmunition on the beach, Britain recovered very well.

By all accounts, the Nazis should have quickly defeated the Allies and enslaved Britain. Instead, the nation and the world were ulitmately rescued from the Nazi’s terrible blood lust and tyranny which sought to exterminate God’s people—both Jews and true followers of Christ.

A sobering epilogue to these events

Today, most of the people of Great Britain are no longer following their Creator or acknowledging His sovereignty or existence; the vast majority are living a life of Secularism, with its foundational belief in Evolutionism, and are boldly unrepentant sinners. The nation that once was the world’s great source of wonderful Christian missionaries is now mostly in spiritual darkness. It is no surprise that today the UK is faced with numerous extremely serious problems. Will they be humbled and repent, or will they proceed in darkness to their doom? Read the words of John Willans, a concerned UK Christian…

1940 National Day of Prayer in Britain“This 1940 photograph starkly shows how the UK has changed since the end of the 2nd World War. It almost seems to be a different country. Sadly, since the end of the War, Britain has largely rejected the moral Laws of God which are clearly stated in Scripture. In Psalm 107:34 it warns,

‘a fruitful nation will become impoverished because of the wickedness of its people’

Proverbs 14:34 adds,

Righteousness will exalt a nation, but wickedness will destroy a people’.

Without God’s blessing of protection upon our Nation, we are no longer shielded from evil and disaster. In Deuteronomy 31:17, when referring to an immoral and corrupt nation, God said,

‘I will forsake them…and many evils and troubles will befall them, so that they will say at that time…

“Have not these disasters come upon us because God is no longer protecting us?”’

This is precisely the position our Nation finds itself in today.

May we, like the Wartime generation before us, turn to God in a true spirit of repentance and plead for Divine help for our country. In 2nd Chronicles 7:14, God promises,

“If people humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

If our country, once again sought God’s help as it did during Wartime, now, just as then, miracles of blessing and protection would begin to happen.” —John Willans, UK Anglican Christian

  • Violence: Very Heavy—all war violence, but restrained; no gore, unusually light on bloodiness, and the violence does not seem gratuitous
  • Swearwords: Moderately Heavy— Chr*st (2), For G*d’s sake, d*mn, h*ll (2), f-word (2), bloody (several)
  • Sex/Nudity: None
  • Sound Design: There is a potential problem for a limited number of viewers. Read editor’s note below.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Well made movie. Acting and action scenes were very good. For a war movie, there was no filthy language, gore or excessive violence, yet you experience the sadness and horror of war. I think more people need to see more of history and what people had to go through to get us where we are today.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Gloria, age 51 (USA)
Positive—It’s a very good movie. It’s appropriately violent, but not excessively. It’s a good British patriotic movie about the resolve the British people during WW2. It shows the spirit of self-sacrifice and and everybody doing their part for the war effort, that was part of greatest generation. If you are British, you need to see it. If you are American it is still enjoyable and a very good history lesson.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Keith Chandler, age 39 (USA)
Positive—Pleasantly surprised. I expected a typical epic war film about a very decisive situation. Instead, the events unfold through the experiences of specific individuals. Without a lot of narrative and explanation, the film becomes a very intense and personal journey. Excellent storytelling presented in an interesting format. One week of men on the beach, one day of one family, and one hour of a pilot interweave and converge, immersing you in the action. Very compelling.

My only wish is that they had included the fact that there had been a call to prayer, the British people responded, and how their prayers were answered. How close the Nazis were, how close this was to changing the course of WWII. Why this event has long been referred to as The Miracle of Dunkirk.

An encouraging reminder that God answers prayers, can intervene with miracles, and save their land when a nation’s people humble themselves and turns back to Him.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—This movie was enjoyable, but much less than it could have been. So many first-person accounts have been written about this battle that it should not have been presented as a fictional drama. Any of several true stories would have made a better script; and much of this script lacked common sense and experience.

In NINE LIVES, Al Deere describes landing on the beach during the battle with his wheels up—standard practice for off-field landings—and he was back in England the same day. The pilot in Dunkirk (twice the age of the typical pilot) flew over long lines of soldiers, but landed alone and was captured.

The Spitfires and Messerschmidts were maneuvering so slowly in their dogfights that even my wife commented on it. Small arms fire passing easily through the steel hull of a ship is questionable, but when they pass through below the water line it’s ridiculous.

But if you know little of the history, you will enjoy the excellent acting, sets and cinematography, and the profanity was constrained—considering the environment. Several excellent examples of personal sacrifice are to be found.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Brian Schacht, age 70 (Canada)
Positive—“Dunkirk” is based on the miraculous true story of the evacuation of British and French soldiers from the small coast of Dunkirk in the early years of World War II. Visionary director, writer, and producer Christopher Nolan (“Memento,” “Insomnia,” “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Interstellar”) deliberately structures the harrowing tale of survival like the silent classic “Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Through The Ages” and the classic war drama “The Longest Day,” which is just as effective here. Nolan’s use of crowd scenes and choice to convey the horrors of war through actions, rather than dialogue, also evokes D.W. Griffith’s epic masterpiece “The Birth Of A Nation.”

The acting is top-notch, from veteran Sir Kenneth Branagh to newcomer Harry Styles. The writing is also excellent, as is the cinematography, sound effects, etc.

Biblically-speaking, there is plenty of violence, as is to be expected in a war movie, but little of it is graphic; there are a few profanities sprinkled throughout, including at least one misuse of our Lord’s Name and two f-words, one man is seen defecating off-camera early in the picture (sans nudity; which the director does not do in his films, save “Memento” and “Insomnia”) and that is the extent of the objectionable content.

See “Dunkirk” on the big screen, if you can, preferably in IMAX. You will get the full experience this way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
D, age 31 (USA)
Positive—This movie was awesome and makes one in awe of the stones that generation had; something sorely lacking today… My only complaint is that they down-played the part about how this was a miracle given to us by the Almighty Lord because England’s leaders and its people got down on their knees, and He answered… Wars are not won on the top of tanks, but down on your knees
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
James, age 43 (USA)
Positive—WOW! This movie was brilliantly done! “Dunkirk” is definitely the most inspiring film which I have ever seen in a theater. From a Christian standpoint, I found nothing overtly offensive in this film. Seeing that it is a war-film, one should expect “Dunkirk” to be violent. While it is not glorified, the deaths within this movie are quite realistically portrayed (though relatively bloodlessly). There is only one notable instance of foul language (the f-bomb). This is by NO means a children’s movie. “Dunkirk” is very intense.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
J. (USA)
Positive—Some reviewers have commented that the film is devoid of Christian references one might expect in what the film depicts—young men at war from a Christian nation facing death. We don’t see the young men overtly praying, or discussing the afterlife; the film has very little dialogue. Neither did I notice the film offering imagery depicting the war (World War II) as a conflict between Christendom and the forces of darkness.…

However, a large part of the film’s story follows civilian volunteers from England putting themselves at risk to rescue trapped soldiers from the waters off Dunkirk. In doing so, are they not embodying “fishers of men,” the metaphor describing the most basic Christian behavior?

When viewing Christopher Nolan’s films, we should keep in mind that he is a graduate of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, a Jesuit institution with a mission of educating youth to behave as Christians in the modern world.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Joyce, age 64 (USA)
Editor’s Response—Graduating from Loyola Academy is not necessarily indicative of a student’s religious beliefs, only their exposure to Jesuit Catholicism. Non-religious/Secularist actor Bill Murray is perhaps the school’s most famous alumnus. I have found no evidence that Christopher Nolan is at all religious. He may have attended Loyola Academy (an expensive private high school); public records indicate that various Nolan’s attended. We do know he was educated at the expensive Haileybury (Hailey Bury) College in Hertfordshire, England, and University College London. His younger brother clearly graduated from Loyola Academy. Screenwriter/director/producer Jonathan “Jonah” Nolan created the “Person of Interest” TV series, co-created “Westworld”—HBO series, and co-wrote “The Dark Knight” 1-2, “Interstellar” and “The Prestige.”
Positive—Excellent film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: no opinion / Moviemaking quality: 5
Mary Darling, age 76 (USA)
Neutral—I just watched the movie, and I thought it was ok, but hardly the blockbuster that a lot of people say it is. I thought it was very hard to follow and hard to catch what is being said. I just thought it was a very average movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Randy, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Went to this movie with my husband to watch an inspirational story, however, the soundtrack was so assaulting and oppressive that I almost couldn’t bear it. It sounded like a combination of screeching industrial machines and staccato cellos that increased in frequency and intensity and never once let up. I’ve never experienced auditory torture before this movie. The increasing beats and volume messed with my heart rate and made me feel a bit sick.

I suppose the director wanted to create a certain mood, , and he certainly did. I had to leave the theatre for awhile, but returned with my ears plugged in order not to ruin our date night. If there is noise in hell, I think it will sound like the noise in this movie. Still trying to shake off the feeling. Otherwise, the war action was not particularly disturbing or gratuitous for me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
Deborah, age 53 (USA)
Editor’s Note: Thanks for sharing your interesting experience of “AUDITORY TORTURE.” The film is indeed a high-definition “visceral assault on the senses.” I personally did not experience the intensity of what you are describing, and most people do not. However, I did some research and found evidence that a small number of audience members had a similar reaction. I can confirm that composer Hans Zimmer uses an interesting auditory trick/illusion called “Shepard tones” or never-ending “Shepard scales” that explains what happened to you. He also used it in “Interstellar,” “Sherlock Holmes” and others, but most intensely and continually in “Dunkirk.”

For a demonstration of what Zimmer did, watch this 3 minute Vox video (above), “The Sound Illusion that Makes DUNKIRK So Intense.” By the way, if any visitor has the same “auditory torture” experience with this video while listening on good speakers or earphones, then, in the theater, you will surely have the same problem, only worse.

Negative—I saw what “Deborah, age 53 (USA)” said about the audio torture, and it surprised me because I didn't realize someone had the same experience as me. I don't think I liked the movie in general, but the music/sounds throughout the movie were really distracting and painful to listen to. It just irritated me. The sound felt like someone was dragging nails on a chalkboard. I have never had an experience like that before.

Honestly, I think sometimes we are sentimental about historical war movies. However, I just don't think the film was that good, even though I can appreciate the history.
Brian, age 30 (USA)
Negative—Sadly, I agree with Deborah, 53, and Brian, 30. I’m British-born and raised, so I really thought “Dunkirk would inspire me, but it didn’t. While the film had a lot of good cinematography and interesting character studies, more visual than based on the script, the sound track was repetitive and depressing. It made me want to sleep. I’ve always been a fan of Kenneth Branagh, but his performance did nothing for me as he stood in the same spot for the entire movie shouting orders that were not always understandable. The whole film was dramatic, choppy, sad, dreary and unexciting. Deeply disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Christopher Marsden, age 62 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Movie Critics
…a masterpiece… it is hard to imagine a better tribute to this victory of survival… Epic yet intimate… boldly experimental and visually stunning… As George Miller did two years ago with “Fury Road,” Nolan has made the film using practical effects rather than CGI whenever possible—he even spent $5 million on a vintage Luftwaffe plane in order to crash it—and the difference is palpable. …
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
…an impressionist masterpiece… Although the film is deeply moving at unexpected moments, it’s not due to any manufactured sentimentality or false heroics. …A stunning victory… One of Nolan’s bold decisions is to never even show a Nazi; we see the result of the enemy's aggression, especially from the air, but not once is a villain, or a swastika, offered up to function as a target for the viewer’s own aggressive emotion. …
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
…Nolan eschews war porn for a powerful and superbly crafted disaster movie…with a story to tell… his best film so far… It also has Hans Zimmer’s best musical score… It’s a visceral piece of film-making. [5/5]
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…Christopher Nolan’s WWII-set “Dunkirk” fulfills its mission… Seldom has a film so eloquently captured the craziness, brutality and arbitrariness of war. “Dunkirk” just might be Nolan’s masterpiece.
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
…blockbuster war drama lets viewer feel the conflict’s confusion and fear, rather than celebrate it… [4/4]
Peter Howell, Toronto Star Newspapers
…destined for Oscar glory… At only 107 minutes, it’s also astonishingly short in an era when most movies needlessly run on long beyond the two-hour mark. …
Sara Stewart, New York Post
…heart-hammering and heroically British, this is Christopher Nolan at the peak of his powers… [5/5]
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph [UK]